Navaratri or the nine nights
and Vijaya Dasami are part of the famous ten-day Dasara festivities,
which is celebrated on a grand scale in Mysore. Special poojas for
Goddess Durga are conducted in houses, temples and religious
institutions every day. The festival falls during the Hindu calendar
month of Ashvayuja Sudhha, generally in the months of September-October.
On each day, Goddess Devi is worshipped in her different forms. After
the completion of nine nights of worship, the 10th day is celebrated as
‘Vijaya Dasami’, the day of victory. After special poojas, a procession
is taken out symbolising victory of good over evil. All the ten days of
Dasara are held very sacred. They are very auspicious for undertaking
new jobs and ventures and for conducting auspicious ceremonies and
Dasara is being celebrated from ages. It can be traced in the two great
epics of Ramayana and Mahabharata. Sri Rama, an incarnation of God
Vishnu, celebrated it by taking out his hidden weapons after worshipping
the Devi. The five Pandava princes of the epic Mahabharata took out
their hidden weapons and worshipped it before going for the famous
Mahabharata war. This is marked as the Ayudha Pooja Day.
There are clear evidences of the grand celebrations organised during the
famous Vijayanagar kings of the 14th century. As evidence to this stands
the historic landmark of ‘Mahanavami Dibba’ at the famous UNESCO-listed
heritage centre, Hampi, in Bellary district of Karnataka.
The Mysore Maharajas, kings of the Yadu Dynasty, have continued this
tradition. They have been celebrating the Dasara in a great devotional
and religious manner, with prayers and worship. Even today, the present
Prince, Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wodeyar, celebrates the feast for
10 days in the same old tradition, like his ancestors and as prescribed
in the sacred works. In addition, the Government of Karnataka is
celebrating the festival as ‘Nadahabba’ on a grand scale and has added
further significance to it.
Chamundeswari, popular as Chamundi for Mysoreans, is intimately
associated with the people of this beautiful city since ages. A form of
Kali, Chamundeswari is also the home deity of the Mysore rulers. They
have venerated her with great devotion since the beginning of their
dynasty in 14th century. Chamundeswari is seated on a lion and with a
tridon in her right hand she is piercing the body of monster Mahishasura,
the buffalo-headed demon, who was causing hardship to the people in the
area of Mysore long long ago, say the Puranas, or holy works. Its head
severed by the Goddess with a sword, the buffalo is lying near the
demon's body. Unable to bear his torture, all Gods together prayed to
Goddess Parvathi, the consort of Shiva, to destroy the powerful demon.
They offered her all their powers and weapons. Taking birth as
Chamundeswari, Parvathi killed the demon, with the mighty powers of all
Gods in her. The heroic deeds of Devi is explained in 'Devi Bhagvatha',
a sacred work. According to Hindu tradition, the feminine form is the
most powerful. She is 'Shakti'. She is mother supreme and primordial
force. She is held in high esteem than all other Gods, including her own
husband Shiva. All her admirers worship her with great devotion and in a
pious manner. There are several works praising the Goddess. These are
read or recited on auspicious occasions. The Goddess bestows happiness
and peace on all those who worship her with ardent devotion. She will
guide them to attain the supreme state of consciousness. Hundreds of
devotees from all over India and abroad visit the Chamundi Temple and
worship her, particularly on the sacred Tuesdays and Fridays, and seek
her divine blessings.
The nine-day festival of Navaratri and the tenth day of ‘Vijaya Dasami’
is an exclusive period for worshipping the Divine Mother. It is the most
sacred period for obtaining the divine grace and blessings. Special
prayers and poojas are conducted in homes and temples. Devotees in large
number visit the Devi Temples.
The Chamundi Temple atop the Chamundi Hills assumes great religious
importance during the period. Hundreds of people from across the country
come to Mysore to have the Divine Darshan of the Goddess during these
auspicious days. They attend the special worships conducted in the
temple with devotion and dedication.
Mysore’s Dasara celebrations begin first atop the Chamundi Hills with
the worshipping of the goddess. After worshipping the Goddess first on
the opening day, the the rest of the Dasara celebrations begin. The
Karnataka Government too is following the same tradition.
The worship conducted in the Chamundi Temple is highly religious and
true to Vedic traditions. ‘Abhisekha’ and poojas are conducted twice
daily in accordance with the ‘Agama Sastra’ rituals. The ‘Agamika
Archakas’ or temple priests conduct the regular daily worship and
special ceremonies according to Sastras.
The nine-day rituals are conducted according to Vedic rites and as
prescribed in the ‘Devi Bhagavata’.
The nine days of Navaratri are divided into three sub-periods of three
days each. Each sub-period is devoted to the propitiation of one aspect
of the Devi.
During the first sub-period, the Goddess is worshiped in the
manifestation of Mahakali, for obtaining immunity from diseases, poverty
and grief. During the second sub-period, she is worshipped as
Mahalakshmi, for securing wealth, happiness and prosperity.
The third sub-period is dedicated to the worship of Mahasarasvati, the
goddess of learning and wisdom, to obtain purity of thought,
intellectual eminence and spiritual bliss. The three manifestations of
the Devi, representatively are known as Shiva Shakti (or Maheswari),
Vaishnavi and Brahmi.
The Saptami (7th) day is sacred to the Devi in her incarnation as
Mahasarasvati. It is celebrated as the ‘Sarasvati Pooja’ day.
Mahasarasvati is the great goddess of learning, representing all arts
and sciences. Books, palm leaf manuscripts and writing materials are
worshipped on that day. The 8th day is ‘Durgashtami’. This day is
devoted to Durga worship.
The ninth day is ‘Mahanavami day’. Implements and instruments, symbolic
of the occupation or avocation of the devotee, are worshipped. Chandi
Homa is also performed. Special offering of libations is made to the
Goddess in her manifestation as Chandi. On the 10th day, the day of
feast, a grand procession is taken out and the Sami, also known as Banni,
tree is worshipped.
The Agamas describe Devi as Durga taking nine different forms, which
together are spoken of as ‘Nava Durgas’. It is in these nine forms that
the Goddess is specially invoked and worshiped separately on each day
with reverence. The worshipper seeks different favours on each day
worshipping a separate form of the Devi. Dasara is a festival so
universal in India it is observed by all classes of people.
Apart from these religious ceremonies, recitation of Vedas, music and
other cultural programmes are conducted at the temple during the Dasara.